Many overweight people do not want to join a gym. Fear of failure is a large component of this as is chronic low self -esteem. Being paranoid about being watched or failing is very real for the person concerned. It cannot be dismissed by others as ridiculous. It is real, for that person looking in from the outside. When you see it from the inside, your perspective is able to change.
What is important to realize is that this fear of gyms is not unrealistic given our modern media culture of skinnier the better! I totally understand this fear and was incredibly negative about gyms and exercising for many years. I decided to visit 3 gyms and 2 private exercise classes in my home town to see how each “felt”. I found 5 ways to make it much easier to overcome my fears.
Tip #1: Set your Goals and Start Today
Putting exercising off until tomorrow is the chronic malaise of the obese. I can say that as, from where I was standing, that was a fact. Start by committing to a set amount of exercise each week. Your goal needs to fit into your life and your health level. I chose to exercise 4 times a week and the rest of my life shifts around it. I have made it one of the most important parts of my life for the moment. One of the wonders of exercise is the “feel good” factor. By exercising you body produces chemicals called endorphins. They create a positive sensation after exercise similar to morphine. The endorphins, produced by your body during exercise, help you focus on exercising and make you feel great.
Tip #2: Go during the daytime
During the day there are many retired people who go to the gym just to keep in shape. The majority are not training for a race! This is helpful as you don’t walk into a hive of buzzing spinning machines and huge weights being lifted. Everything is much more chilled and low key.
The gyms cater for this clientele mostly in the morning after 8 or 9 am with classes such as Pilates, Aqua Aerobics, Yoga or Stretching classes. Aqua aerobics is particularly soothing for a self-conscious overweight person as everything is hidden by the water. You can feel the wobbling fat and rejoice that you are making forward strides on regaining your health as well as relieved that neither you nor anyone else can see that fat wobbling!
Tip #3: Join a Class
It is easier to join a class, either at the gym or at a private exercise class. It provides support and, depending on the class you choose, there is always someone there who is on your level. I exclude here spinning classes and high energy aerobics – these are not going to be fun if you are just starting out. Give them a big skip! Surprisingly the exception to this is Zumba, aerobic and fitness class to the high and low rhythms of South American salsas, tangos, and flamenco. Many retired people also enjoy dancing rhythms and it is quite chilled as everyone just does what they can.
Tip #4: Find an Alternative
Many can’t afford the gym or don’t want to join a large gym but there are many alternatives. In my town, I found 17 classified advertisements for local exercise classes. I went to 2 of these classes to check them out. There was great energy and enthusiasm in the first class which had about 20 retired women doing stretching, Pilates and some dance exercises. The second class had 2 other people and even I could tell the instructor needed to more training! However, I can be grateful to her for sending me back to the gym!
Many choose to start walking as a first step. Walking is excellent for you. However, many people who are obese have sore legs and ankles anyway and struggle to keep going with walking. One of the reasons I joined a gym is that it keeps gives you a wider choice of exercise and keeps you accountable. It is much harder to find an excuse when you’re paying for something!
Tip #5: Find a Gym Buddy
Support is crucial on the long journey of weight loss or gaining back your health. When I joined the gym I was classified as obese with a BMI of 49 and my actual age is 50 but my body age was 64! I was shocked! Finding a friend to enjoy the gym with allows you to chat and gossip over a walk or while doing a circuit. It also is a huge help in accountability.
The massive negativity towards exercising grows stronger the heavier you weigh and the longer you leave it. Unchecked it is one of the most difficult hurdles to get over when trying to lose weight. Getting the energy to start is important. Getting the endorphins to continue is vital.
The more you exercise the easier it becomes and the better you feel. By choosing classes or times of the day where the classes have clientele who are older, or in the same position as you are, is helpful in building confidence. So ask a friend to join you to support you and make it more fun, and make it a priority this year. Start now!